Monday, July 11, 2011

Mobocracy at Ben Gurion Airport

Journalist Larry Derfner came to Tel Aviv airport to cover the arrival of international activists. Once in the reception hall, a small Israeli mob turned on him. In a matter of seconds, he found himself in a police van

by Larry Derfner

Jerusalem Post's Larry Derfner surrounded at Ben Gurion airport (photo: Joseph Dana)

Anybody who believes the platitude that the people want peace, it’s just the leaders who want war, should have been at Ben-Gurion Airport today. It’s a good thing those Free Palestine activists got arrested; otherwise, the little mob that formed spontaneously would have punched them up pretty good.

Only minutes after I got to the Arrivals hall, a few activists stood in front of the phalanx of reporters and cameramen, help up their little signs and started chanting “Israel Apartheid” and ”Free Palestine!” The cops tore the signs from their hands and started pushing them toward the exit. After the first couple of minutes of watching in shocked silence, people in the terminal started to boo. Men were cursing loudly – “sons of bitches,” “garbage,” and things in Arabic I didn’t understand.

A couple of dozen people, mainly men but also a few women, followed very close behind the tightly-bunched demonstrators, cops and reporters to the police van. “Throw them in the garbage,” shouted one woman. An old man tried to get at one of the activists, but the police stopped him.

I was there ostensibly as a journalist, and I was scribbling notes, but I felt cowardly not saying anything to these nationalist hooligans, so I started telling them in Hebrew, “What are these people doing?” The woman who wanted them thrown in the garbage said, “They’re hurting us!” I said, “They’re talking,” and the little mob turned on me, a couple of the men raised their fists. The woman told me, “Go back home, get out of here,” I said, “I live here.” The cops mistook me for a demonstrator, put me in the police van, but when I showed them my press card, they let me go.

Let me repeat – the police started off arresting the demonstrators, but very shortly their main task was to keep them from being assaulted. They had to hold back the herd = and that’s what these people were, a herd incited by the idea that these protesters, non-violent protesters trying to get to the West Bank, were a menace, an immediate threat to their security.

And I do not buy the idea that these people are helpless pawns being manipulated by the government, the media, the right-wing politicians. Most Israelis, even if they wouldn’t join a mob like the one at the airport, want to hear the belligerent rhetoric the opinion-makers are feeding them. They hate anybody who says anything bad about Israel, and take their words automatically as “blood libels.” The opinion-makers know this, and the ones who are popular and want to stay that way tell the people what they want to hear.

Who’s manipulating whom is a chicken-and-egg question.

Watching my enraged countrymen at Ben-Gurion, I imagined the daily headlines having been distilled into a kind of political methadrine and mainlined into their veins. Few Israelis would join them in physically going after people chanting slogans. But in their insistence that protesters like these be silenced because their words are acts of violence, acts of war, of terrorism, they represent the majority. They are an authentic expression of the national will. Theirs is the loudest voice in the land, it’s joined by the voice of Netanyahu, the government, the settlers and most of the media. All competing voices are drowned out.

Which is why these foreign activists on these flotillas, whatever I or anybody else thinks of the totality of their politics, are absolutely vital not only to the Palestinians, but to Israel. They’re bringing oxygen to a suffocating nation.

Larry Derfner is a journalist and an op-ed contributor for the Jerusalem Post. This post was published on his joint blog with 972’s Dimi Reider, Israel Reconsidered, and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tried the Back Door Into Israel; that didn't work either

well, I obviously didn't get into Israel. When they got my flight from London to Tel Aviv canceled I hopped on a flight to Sharm El Sheikh at the tip of the Sinai penisula in Egypt. Then I hired a taxi to the Israel border crossing at Taba. But when I announced my purpose was to travel to Palestine to meet with friends, Israel's answer was "NO".
Take a look at this article that describes the greeting the activists who did make it into Ben Gurion Airport got: .

people don't realize how much hate is boiling over in this bigoted theocracy. it's not just a small group of ultra-right politicians setting a course of intolerance and oppression.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Waiting for Flight to Tel Aviv

Luton Airport (London) -- made it through security. will see what happens at the gate.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mazin Qumsiyeh
Date: 2011/7/7
Subject: [HumanRights] ‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign responds to Israel’s denial of entrance
Cc: Human Rights Newsletter

[This campaign that we have been working very hard on for months is just
beginning. The week of activities will go on with all your help. We will
plan bigger and more dramatic events in the months to come. The collusion
of the governments and corporations in Israeli oxccupation and colonization
must be further exposed.]

‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign responds to Israel’s denial of entrance to
international visitors who support human rights

Bethlehem and Jerusalem, July 7, 2011 - The Israeli authorities are
escalating attacks on anyone they suspect of participating in the peaceful
events of the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign. Israeli authorities sent
hundreds of names to airline companies telling them to deny travel to
individuals on the list. Several people on the list who had booked flights
were sent letters from airline companies cancelling their reservations
‘based on a request from the Israeli authorities.’ We call on all airline
companies not to accept such provocative, blackmailing, and illegal actions
by the Israeli government. Ominously, Israeli Prime minister has directed
the interior security minister that the Israeli authorities must ‘act with
determination’ towards those who do make it to Ben Gurion Airport.

The visitors coming from the US and Europe on Friday are committed to the
principles of international and humanitarian law and believe strictly in
nonviolence. They were invited by dozens of Palestinian civil society
organizations and groups. They have stated that the only way to visit and
work with Palestinians is by passing through Israeli border controls. They
have declared their commitment to pass these border controls in an orderly,
peaceful and fully transparent way.

Before stepping onto the airplanes, the visitors will have passed through
meticulous security procedures at the various airports of origin and will
pose no threat in any way. The propaganda efforts to paint human rights
advocates as ‘hooligans’ and even ‘violent’ (an attempt to demonize and
dehumanize them in order to justify violence against them) is simply not
credible and indeed ridiculous. We are pleased that this episode further
exposes Israeli policies towards anything or anyone relating to
‘Palestinians’ as dictatorial, racist, and criminal and not complying with
basic elements of democracy or human rights.

Visitors traveling between countries have rights under international law and
bilateral travel agreements. Our foreign visitors insist that they must be
treated with respect in the same manner Israeli citizens receive when
traveling to their countries. Those who had reservations cancelled will
exercise their right of protest including bringing legal cases in their own
countries. We will also bring legal cases in Israeli courts under our
continued attempt to expose the racist policies of the Israeli government.

Several peaceful protests will be held at airports throughout Europe on the
8th of July and we urge all civilized people throughout the world to protest
these undemocratic moves to silence free speech and legal travel. We ask the
media to insist on access and fair reporting on Israeli tactics that are
against basic human rights of international solidarity activists before,
during and after they arrive at the Israeli airport. We demand Israel
publishes all instructions given to their ‘border control officials’
regarding visitors who intend to visit Palestinians.

The "Welcome to Palestine" campaign has been successful in exposing Israeli
attempts to isolate and imprison Palestinians and prevent international
visitors from coming to find out what is really happening on the ground.

Friday 8 July 2011 at 10 AM in Bethlehem Peace Center, located in Nativity
Square, we will have a Press Conference to announce further steps we will
take and to answer any questions.

Twitter: #PalSpring
Facebook: Welcome to Palestine

Contact information:
Bethlehem: Fadi Kattan, +970 (0) 595
754 100 or Skype

Jerusalem: Nikki or Laura, , +972 2 624 1159 or +972 2
624 1424

Berlin: Sophia Deeg,, +49(0) 30 88 007761
, +49 (0) 1799878414
. 13:00 Press briefing;
beginning 13:30 news center, including (if possible) direct contact with the
travelers as they land at Ben Gurion airport. Filmb├╝hne am Steinplatz,
Hardenbergstr. 12, Berlin Charlottenburg.

Paris: Nicolas Shahshahani, +33 (0)1 42 94 39
94 and +33 (0) 6
73 38 24 84 .
The press office will answer questions from the media around the clock.

UK: Sofiah Macleod,, +44 (0)131 620 0052
or + 44 (0)
7401631658 , Skype:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Press Release 2: Welcome to Palestine

Press Release 2: "Welcome to Palestine" Organizers decry Israeli propaganda
efforts and threats of mass deportation

Bethlehem and Jerusalem 5 July 2011--The organizers of the "Welcome to
Palestine" initiative decry the numerous attempts by Israeli and other media
to distort our message and planned activities. There were messages claiming
that we are attempting to reach Gaza by going to Lod Airport (aka Ben Gurion
airport) on July 8. Some claimed that this initiative came after the
flotilla was blocked. Others claimed our visitors want to disrupt things at
the airport and some even claimed they will try to take over planes. These
claims and many others being circulated are false; we urge media not to
disseminate false statements.

As stated in our first press release: we invited international guests,
including families, to visit us in Palestine. We hope and expect the
Israeli authorities to allow them safe passage in compliance with
International law and normal diplomatic bilateral protocols. We also reject
the Israeli government threat to engage in mass deportation of peace
activists and the apparent attempt justify this unjustifiable action by
using rumors that they spread.

We are accessible to the media and encourage them to speak with the actual
organizers and participants of this peaceful initiative. Journalists will
be flying with us, and we encourage more journalists to join us and to
report on what actually happens (without innuendos and propaganda efforts -
Israeli hasbara).

Our visitors are coming to Palestine with a nonviolent approach to peace
building and conflict resolution, with full respect of the universal
declaration of human rights. We urge the Israeli authorities to allow the
journalists to have access to our participants and to report the true story
of "Welcome to Palestine."

Inviting Palestinians and internationals to join us is our right as people
under colonial occupation who yearn to be free.

Some journalists are flying with our visitors and we invite all journalists
who want to exercise their right to free press to fly in of the 8th of July
to Palestine.

We will have a press conference Friday July 8 at 10 AM at the Bethlehem
Peace Center in Bethlehem.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Palestine Fly-In: July 8, 2011

On July 8th, hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists from around the world will stage a “fly-in” at Ben Gurion International airport in Israel. I’m proud to say I will be among them.

Inspired by the sit-ins and freedom rides of the civil rights movement, in the USA in the ‘60s, and the Freedom Flotilla that attempted sail to Gaza this week, we intend to exercise our right to travel to Palestine.

I will be traveling with a group of US citizens who have accepted an invitation from the Al Rowwad Cultural Centre in Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem during July. Our delegation is responding to Palestinian civil society organizations and peace and human rights activists who have called on civil society organizations and people of conscience around the world to come to Palestine July 8 for a week of fellowship and peace-building. (See the Right to Enter Campaign at )

Israel's arbitrary and abusive control over entry into the Occupied Palestinian Territories is unlawful and must be vigorously opposed. Israel must recognize the basic human right of entering to Palestine by those who want to visit the Palestinian people. We will get a big 'Welcome to Palestine' on July 9th if we can get through Israel's illegal blockade.

I see my participation in this delegation as part of multi-faceted communication and direct action campaign with the University of Colorado called CU-Divest! CU-Divest! is asking the University of Colorado to stop investing in companies that support Israel’s oppression. People can stand in solidarity with our delegation by signing our petition on line: .